Support Widens for Thomas Probes

Bob Edgar Common Cause President and CEO Bob Edgar on Oct. 6 ramped up his group's call for a Justice Department probe of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Speaking on the Washington Update weekly radio show that I host Scott Draughon, Edgar cited new evidence to argue that federal judicial authorities should refer the matter to the DOJ.

Meanwhile, 46 Democratic members of congress wrote House Judicairy Committee leaders to request a hearing on alleged ethics violations by Thomas revealed earlier this year. As the Huffington Post reported in, Democrats Ramp Up Calls For Ethics Probe Of Clarence Thomas, the Democrats seek a formal investigation of Thomas for failing to disclose information relating to his wife's earnings -- as much as $1.6 million over the past 13 years -- on his annual financial disclosure forms.

Common Cause and Alliance for Justice, like those in Congress, are seeking the probeon ethics issues. They said that emerging details about gaps in annual financial disclosure reports filed by Thomas suggest that he deliberately withheld information required by federal ethics laws. “There is now more than enough evidence to merit a formal inquiry as to whether Justice Thomas willfully failed to make legally required disclosures, perhaps for as long as 13 years,” said Edgar. New developments are described below. The Washington Update show heard live nationally on the My Technology Lawyer radio network can now be heard archive here. Mac users need “Parallels.”

In 2007, Edgar was named president and CEO of Common Cause, a national nonpartisan, non-profit "citizens" lobby working to make government at all levels more honest, open and accountable, and to connect citizens with their democracy. He arrived at Common Cause with a long history of leadership and public service that included 12 years in Congress. He was the general secretary of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA for seven years. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974 to represent the Seventh Congressional District of Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia. Under his leadership, Common Cause is championing a number of critical issues and reforms, including the public funding of political campaigns at all levels. Details



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Investigative Articles

Clarence Thomas

Counterpunch, Supreme Court Scandal Widens: Koch Entertained Justice Thomas At His Private Club, Pam Martens, Oct. 3, 2011. For the past three years the U.S. has been served up a heaping dose of free market creative destruction that is the sine qua non of legions of corporate funded front groups. First Wall Street, then housing, now the nation’s highest court have been brought low by its force. As it turns out, creative destruction is 90 percent corruption and 10 percent creative.

New York Times, Thomas' ties to a Texas real-estate baron named Harlan, Mike McIntire, June 27, 2011. The two men met in the mid-1990s, a few years after Justice Thomas joined the court. Since then, Mr. Crow has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group. They have also spent time together at gatherings of prominent Republicans and businesspeople at Mr. Crow’s Adirondacks estate and his camp in East Texas. In several instances, news reports of Mr. Crow’s largess provoked controversy and questions, adding fuel to a rising debate about Supreme Court ethics. But Mr. Crow’s financing of the museum, his largest such act of generosity, previously unreported, raises the sharpest questions yet — both about Justice Thomas’s extrajudicial activities and about the extent to which the justices should remain exempt from the code of conduct for federal judges.

Probes Demanded On Allegations

Louise SlaughterHuffington Post, Democrats Ramp Up Calls For Ethics Probe Of Clarence Thomas, Jennifer Bendery, Oct. 5, 2011. House Democrats are ratcheting up the pressure for a formal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for failing to disclose information relating to his wife's earnings -- as much as $1.6 million over the past 13 years -- on his annual financial disclosure forms. House Rules Committee ranking member Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), right, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee calling for hearings "on the pattern of potential ethical lapses" by Thomas, who, after years of filing his financial forms properly, stopped disclosing his wife Ginny's employment status every year between 1997 and 2011. During that time, the letter states, his wife made at least $1.6 million, based on reports from outside groups.  "Public records clearly demonstrate that Justice Thomas has failed to accurately disclose information concerning the income and employment status of his wife, as required by law," reads the letter to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.). "In addition, news reports indicate that Justice Thomas may have also failed to report gifts from wealthy supporters and inappropriately solicited donations for favored non-profit organizations."

Common Cause / Alliance for Justice, Citing new evidence, Common Cause and Alliance for Justice urge formal investigation of Justice Thomas’ disclosure failures, Oct. 5, 2011. Citing new evidence, Common Cause and Alliance for Justice urge formal investigation of Justice Thomas' disclosure failures . Emerging details about gaps in annual financial disclosure reports filed by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggest that the justice deliberately withheld information required by federal ethics laws, Common Cause said today. “There is now more than enough evidence to merit a formal inquiry as to whether Justice Thomas willfully failed to make legally required disclosures, perhaps for as long as 13 years,” said Bob Edgar, president of the non-profit government watchdog group. As a result, Common Cause joined with Alliance for Justice on Wednesday, in a letter asking the U.S. Judicial Conference to refer the matter to the Attorney General for possible action under the Ethics in Government Act.

OpEd News, Reform Teams Must Fight for the Dream, But Do It Much Better, Andrew Kreig, Oct. 4, 2011. As the Supreme Court begins its annual term on Oct. 3, I'd like to share suggestions below on how legal reformers -- our team, in other words -- can be much more effective in achieving results. That's the dream. But reformers face huge challenges that require new approaches to fight due process violations and other wrongdoing that appears to extend high into the legal system.

OpEd News, 20 Dem Reps: DOJ Should Investigate Clarence Thomas, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 30, 2011. Justice Integrity Project, 20 Dem Reps: DOJ Should Investigate Clarence Thomas, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 30, 2011. Twenty Democratic members of Congress wrote federal judicial authorities on Sept. 29 to request a formal Justice Department probe of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas for long-term failures to disclose junkets, other gifts and income.

Legal Schnauzer, The Road from Clarence Thomas to Harlan Crow Runs Close to Home, Roger Shuler, June 27, 2011. Mounting evidence indicates Justice Clarence Thomas is so ethically compromised that he should be removed from the U.S. Supreme Court. The latest evidence comes from a New York Times piece about Thomas' ties to a Texas real-estate baron named Harlan Crow. We have discovered that the Thomas/Crow story, in a roundabout way, links to one of our storylines here at Legal Schnauzer. In fact, our story is about judicial chicanery in Alabama, the kind that favors the wealthy over regular citizens. That theme should sound familiar if you have been following the trail of Clarence Thomas' numerous ethical lapses. And it raises this question: How far will some wealthy Americans go to buy justice?

Background
Washington Post, For Anita Hill, the Clarence Thomas hearings haven’t really ended, Krissah Thompson, Oct. 7, 2011.Twenty years ago, when Anita Hill returned home from the contentious Senate hearings during which she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, people told her not to worry — her name would be forgotten in a matter of months.  But two things have become clear this week as she has re-entered the debate: The raw tensions over race, gender and politics raised by the hearings have not been forgotten. And Anita Hill is acting like a woman who wants her name remembered.  She is stepping back into the news by choice, giving a series of interviews about a book she released this week on issues of gender and race called “Reimagining Equality.” And she is attending seminars focused on the anniversary of the Thomas hearings, having become over the years a minor political celebrity.

Huffington Post, Clarence's Questions, Part 1: The Case Of The Burning Cross, Oct. 7, 2011. Justice Clarence Thomas has not asked a question at a Supreme Court oral argument since Feb. 22, 2006. Many have commented on the meaning of his reticence, and Thomas himself -- who is as loquacious in speaking engagements as he is mum on the bench -- has put forward several explanations for his opting out of the lively back-and-forth among his eight colleagues and the lawyers who appear before them. But this series is called "Clarence's Questions," and not "Quiet Clarence," for a reason: As his sixth anniversary of self-imposed silence approaches this term and his third decade on the Court begins, it's worth examining the moments when Justice Thomas felt compelled to step into the fray. Court-watchers know that Thomas is plenty outspoken in his written opinions, where he often argues solely for himself due to his uncompromisingly originalist philosophy. Indeed, most lawyers arguing before him can already surmise how Thomas will vote in their cases, so his silence leaves room for them to address the justices who are more open to persuasion. Yet Thomas' silence has also left many casual observers -- that is, ordinary American citizens -- with the impression that the man either does not care about the cases or cannot intellectually compete with his colleagues. With help from the Oyez Project at the University of Chicago-Kent School of Law, The Huffington Post has compiled a comprehensive audio collection of Thomas' questions, including some "deep cuts" that had been left unattributed in the Court's official transcripts, so that HuffPost readers can hear Thomas and decide for themselves the impact of his silent streak.

New Yorker / Annals of Law, Partners: Will Clarence and Virginia Thomas succeed in killing Obama’s health-care plan? Jeffrey Toobin, Aug. 29, 2011. As the Justice has assumed an influential role on the Roberts Court, his wife has helped lead the public war against the Administration. It has been, in certain respects, a difficult year for Clarence Thomas.  These tempests obscure a larger truth about Thomas: that this year has also been, for him, a moment of triumph. In several of the most important areas of constitutional law, Thomas has emerged as an intellectual leader of the Supreme Court. Since the arrival of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., in 2005, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., in 2006, the Court has moved to the right when it comes to the free-speech rights of corporations, the rights of gun owners, and, potentially, the powers of the federal government; in each of these areas, the majority has followed where Thomas has been leading for a decade or more. Rarely has a Supreme Court Justice enjoyed such broad or significant vindication.

Huffington Post, Democrats Ramp Up Calls For Ethics Probe Of Clarence Thomas, Jennifer Bendery, Oct. 5, 2011. House Democrats are ratcheting up the pressure for a formal investigation into Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for failing to disclose information relating to his wife's earnings -- as much as $1.6 million over the past 13 years -- on his annual financial disclosure forms. House Rules Committee ranking member Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) on Wednesday sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee calling for hearings "on the pattern of potential ethical lapses" by Thomas, who, after years of filing his financial forms properly, stopped disclosing his wife Ginny's employment status every year between 1997 and 2011. During that time, the letter states, his wife made at least $1.6 million, based on reports from outside groups.  "Public records clearly demonstrate that Justice Thomas has failed to accurately disclose information concerning the income and employment status of his wife, as required by law," reads the letter to House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.). "In addition, news reports indicate that Justice Thomas may have also failed to report gifts from wealthy supporters and inappropriately solicited donations for favored non-profit organizations."

 

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